What Makes a Beautiful Backyard Wedding?

A disco ball and lights over a dance floor at a backyard wedding.

To say that 2020 threw us off track is an understatement. COVID-19 has at some point closed almost every establishment, forced everyone to stay home, and hit gatherings and special events really hard.

But as they say, love is not canceled. As states open up to allow small outdoor gatherings, this pandemic is paving the way to make micro weddings the new norm. Couples who were stumped with their initial wedding plans now have the option to still get married in the coming months, only in a more intimate setting: a smaller guest count and, often, in their very own backyard!

So how do you create the perfect backyard wedding? Here are some of the things you should consider.

A Curated Guest List

A wedding guest book on a wood wine barrel.

As with any event, one of the first things to do is figure out the guest count. So, take a look at your backyard to estimate how many guests can fit, keeping in mind tables, chairs, food stations and maybe a dance floor in mind. Start writing down the names of those nearest and dearest to you. Remember that people from the same household are a lot safer to be grouped together, and not everyone will be comfortable to travel under the current circumstances. The older ones, like your grandparents, and the ones with small children might opt out. That said, your list may be edited several times throughout the planning process. Don’t be disheartened; your loved ones still want to with you, for sure. If possible, creating a virtual option for them to be “present,” especially during the ceremony, is a thoughtful thing you can do.

Ambiance

A wood table at a wedding reception decorated with blue plates and garden flowers.

One of the great things about a backyard wedding is that it’s a blank canvas. You can transform the space and make it as formal or as casual as you want. If formal is what you have in mind, rent a tent with some café lights inside, with long or round tables paired with Chiavari or ghost chairs. Hire some live music to elevate the experience even more!

If you’re opting for something less formal, start with whatever you have at home. Do you have a long farm table and bench? That can be your focal point in the middle of the backyard, and then add some smaller tables around it. (Chairs don’t have to match!) Have your florist create garden-inspired floral centerpieces and greeneries so you’re in line with the outdoor feel. You can DIY wooden signs and have fun lawn games.

Another advantage of a micro wedding is having more budget to personalize everything. Put your names and monogram on the napkins, table runners—even the smallest details like the ribbon on your gifts for the wedding party!

Food and Drinks

A plate of small apetizers at a wedding reception.

Backyard weddings give the flexibility for meals and drinks. For the more casual affairs, barbecue and other comfort food are great choices in addition to grab-n-go drinks like bottled beer, water, and soda that you can station in two sides of the backyard. If you’re leaning towards a more formal reception, offsite catering offers both small bites and sit-down options. Just keep in mind that for safety reasons, buffets may not be the best way to go at this time, except if you have dedicated servers.

Safety

Nowadays, safety is everything, and there is a lot that you can do to ensure safety for you and your guests on your wedding day. Aside from cleaning and disinfecting the space on the day of the wedding, make sure you put “sanitation stations” around your backyard, especially in the common areas. Group people from the same household or families at the same tables. Remind people of the option to wear masks, to stay home if they’re feeling sick, and to encourage social distancing whenever possible.

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